retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Amazon installing lockers in Staples stores all over the country, MNB user Ken Wagar wrote:

Interesting to me that Amazon which is a company I really like and shop very frequently is now doing business with a company that in my opinion does a terrible job of being in stock, eliminates valued brands in favor of 2nd rate private labels, and often has employees who are neither friendly nor courteous.

I would much rather wait an extra day to have something shipped to my home than to enter a Staples for anything.

I suggested yesterday that Staples might be letting the fox into the hen house, making the same strategic mistake that Borders and Toys R Us did when they did business with Amazon.

MNB user Stephen Cordova responded:

It makes tons of sense for Staples to put Amazon boxes in their stores.  It is all about getting customers into their stores, and while there they will find instant gratification of other items they may want to buy.  It’s like the Mall Theory.  Whatever will bring in customers should increase sales.  It is good for Amazon, Staples and ultimately good for the consumer.

Another MNB user wrote:

The difference I see between Staples and TRU/Borders...people buy toys and books on the internet all day every day...pens and basic office supplies...not so much.  As a small business owner, I buy just about everything from Amazon, but still make a trip to OfficeMax (closer than Staples).  In a world of, "How do I get one more visit from my customer base", package pick-up could be an option.

On the subject of emailed receipts, a trend that seems to be gaining traction, one MNB user wrote:

I love this too!  And anything else “green”.  I view my email as a survival tool, keeping things from years ago organized by topic and date.  I shop online a lot, so this will add to my e-confirmation files.  It’s so much easier to find a receipt in email vs. a pile papers. is kind of annoying that retailers (and other industries) find ways to save money, call it “going green”, and don’t pass any of the savings on to the consumer.  They most times position it as they are doing us a favor.  Yes, e-receipts are good for the earth but they also save the company a boat load of the actual green paper money.  They aren’t fooling me!

From another reader:

I agree that online receipts are more convenient and user-friendly than paper receipts.

However, I had a baggage loss experience with JetBlue airlines, who will not reimburse for lost luggage without a physical receipt. I submitted the copy of the invoice I got from the retailer, only to be denied that portion of my claim. (All physical receipt copies were paid.) I protested this decision to JetBlue management, only to learn that JetBlue believes “online receipts can be altered”, therefore, they will not honor online receipts if submitted to prove the cost paid or ownership of an item in a lost bag.

Their decision cost them a frequent flier (or certainly when I must bag check). But, it also served as a reminder for me to get physical receipts for any item of value that might go in my suitcase. Since lost bags happen so rarely, I can’t expect JetBlue to come out of the dark ages on this policy anytime soon….

This is a case where JetBlue is guilty of 20th century thinking. Hopefully, sufficient pressure can be brought upon it to change this policy.

Yesterday, I wrote about how Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser beer, has gone to Paramount Pictures to ask the film studio to remove its product - or at least obscure its label - from all future digital copies of the movie Flight, which, as the Hollywood Reporter writes, "centers on an alcoholic pilot who guzzles alcohol and takes drugs both before and after he takes prevents a malfunctioning airplane from crashing."

Budweiser isn't the only label seen in the film, which also shows products such as Rolling Rock, Yuengling, Smirnoff, Absolut and Stolichnaya being abused by the main character. According to the Hollywood Reporter, none of those brands were asked for or gave permission for their brands to be used in the film.

I commented:

While I understand Anheuser's objections, I think the company is making a mistake. I was aware of the fact that Budweiser and the other labels were in the movies, but it wasn't like I ever thought that the brands were endorsing alcoholism or addiction. If I were the filmmaker, I would have insisted on using real brands, too ... fake brand labels always call more attention to themselves, especially if they are designed to mimic real brands.

So this is one of those cases where me thinks they doth protest too much ... and actually are creating more awareness of the brands presence in the movie than the movie actually did. (Maybe that's the point?)

MNB user Chris Weisert responded:

I have to wonder if product placement fees were asked for and declined so Anheuser-Busch InBev decided to turn the tables when the film producers used the brand anyway.

The stories I've read suggest that the producers never asked. (If I were the producer, I would not have. I would have just used the brands and invoked the Fair Use doctrine.)

And MNB user David peterson wrote:

Then why didn’t they use a real airline brand?

I suspect that there's a good reason for that. While the producers used real alcohol brands, there was never any suggestion that the brands were responsible for the character's addiction issues.

However, there would be a good argument that by allowing that pilot to fly the plane, and airline did bear responsibility for events transpiring while he is sitting in the captain's seat. So they could not use a real airline brand - that would have been charging a real entity with negligence, which would have crossed a line.

Finally, an MNB user criticized me yesterday for using the word "detritus" in a commentary, accusing me of "showing off" and playing "SAT vocabulary games."

I responded that this was not my intent:

I'm not a particularly smart guy, but I read some, and so I'm often learning words that I might not otherwise know. When I write, they sometimes pop out, hopefully when appropriate.

MNB user John R. Hurguy wrote:

As a long time reader, I couldn’t possibly disagree more with the individual’s comments that you’re showing off and playing SAT vocabulary games.  Your word usage is just one of the many things that makes your writing interesting and fun.  And, it certainly is not something you just implemented..  In fact, proof of your commitment to “new and different words” goes back about 5 years ago when you shared with the MNB community a website that allowed us an opportunity not only to increase our personal vocabularies but also to indirectly contribute food to the needy… The site was called appropriately, “Free Rice.”

Keep up the great work and please continue to share the new words you come across as many of us appreciate the opportunity to learn new words that we might not otherwise know…

Another MNB user wrote:

I enjoyed your word “detritus” and don’t actually believe the comment that you were showing off. A good friend of mine who isn’t at all driven by his ego, loves to read and he remembers every word he reads and its meaning. Every now and then he throws out a word that I’ve never before heard of and it’s always fun and interesting because he’s not doing it in a manner to make himself look superior.
Thank you for allowing us to learn and use new words!

And, from another reader:

You weren’t showing off – you were educated by old-school nuns and Jesuits; therefore, you are familiar with the English language.   No need to apologize and, once again, you were able to use MNB as a learning tool to expand that poor reader’s limited vocabulary.   Well done.
Never forget the wisdom of Sir Winston Churchill: “Naturally I am biased in favor of boys learning English. I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honour, and Greek as a treat. But the only thing I would whip them for is not knowing English, I would whip them hard for that.”

KC's View: